The ‘31st brand’ that helped Marriott get through the pandemic

 Tony Capuano Chief Executive Officer Marriott International
Tony Capuano, CEO of Marriott International, on stage at IHIF 2021. (Questex)

With much of the world unable to travel for large parts of the past 18 months, global travel and hospitality brands have been searching for ways to stay connected with guests.

For Marriott, a lot of the heavy lifting has come through its newly enhanced Bonvoy loyalty programme, which CEO Tony Capuano described on stage at IHIF 2021 as “our 31st brand”.

“I do think it touches almost everything we do because it creates such as strong and compelling connectivity to our customers around the world,” he told the audience.

Over the last few years Marriott has invested time and money enhancing its loyalty proposition, while at the same time exploring businesses opportunities related to but outside its core product.

“Even pre pandemic we had spent a lot of energy and a lot of resources identifying what we term ‘business adjacencies’ that we thought were complementary to our core lodging business, that had the potential to develop into new revenue streams,” Capuano said.

This includes sectors like branded credit cards and branded residencies and shortly its own line of luxury yachts.

“Even our most loyal guests in some cases didn’t travel at all for the last year, year and a half, and the ability to stay connected with them through the credit card program through our Uber partnership, through some of the other mechanisms we have, I think that ability to continue to build that personal relationship with our guests is critical and these business adjacencies give us lots of conduits to do exactly that, Capuano added.